Big Pharma company that is trying to keep pot illegal was just approved to manufacture synthetic marijuana

“It appears they are trying to kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets.”

marijuana close up

Insys Therapeutics, a major pharmaceutical company, has spent over $500,000 fueling the opposition to marijuana legalization in the United States. Now we know why.

The Big Pharma company is a major manufacturer of deadly painkillers and is one of the chief backers of the anti-legalization movement. They have been in legal trouble in the last several years for “alleged improper marketing of a highly addictive prescription painkiller.” They are currently the subject of several state and federal criminal investigations, and a shareholder lawsuit, over their marketing of a product that contains the deadly opioid painkiller fentanyl. The company is curiously developing a drug to treat opioid overdose as well as fueling the addiction.

Therapeutics donated $500,000, an amount equal to ten percent of all the money raised by Arizonas for Responsible Drug Policy, the group behind the strong opposition to medical marijuana. The donation was one of the largest single contributions to any anti-legalization campaign ever. Insys was the only Big Pharma company known to give money to oppose marijuana legalization last year.

Now the company has received preliminary approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration for Syndros, a synthetic marijuana drug. Specifically Syndros is a synthetic formulation of THC, the main psychoactive component in the cannabis plant. Previously, Syndros was approved by the FDA to treat nausea, vomiting and weight loss in cancer and AIDS patients.

The preliminary approval from the DEA classifies Syndros in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, which also includes highly addictive drugs such as cocaine, morphine and many prescription painkillers. Whole plant marijuana is in the Schedule I of the CSA, which includes substances that have a lack of medically accepted use as well as high abuse potential.

Insys has long been active in opposing the loosening of restrictions on naturally derived THC, and promoting the loosening of restrictions on synthetic versions of CBD, another compound in cannabis.

As a spokesman for Arizona’s marijuana legalization campaign stated, “It appears they are trying to kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets.”

Last year the FBI arrested Insys former chief executive, along with five other executives on charges that they “paid kickbacks and committed fraud to sell a highly potent and addictive opioid that can lead to abuse and life threatening respiratory depression.”


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Ruth Milka started as an intern for NationofChange in 2015. Known for her thoughtful and thorough approach, Ruth is committed to shedding light on the intersection of environmental issues and their impact on human communities. Her reporting consistently highlights the urgency of environmental challenges while emphasizing the human stories at the heart of these issues. Ruth’s work is driven by a passion for truth and a dedication to informing the public about critical global matters concerning the environment and human rights.